I can’t get my websites to look good

Alright, so heres my dilemma. Over the past year and a half I have just given up my social life to learn about PHP & SQL. I've gotten to the point where I would say i have graduated from novice to experienced... NOW. Although I make fairly complex, well made websites... They look like crap :P I used the website codecademy to get started with PHP, then finished up with TheNewBoston... Before I did PHP though, I followed the same pattern but with HTML & CSS. I did the CC tutorials then TheNewBoston's tutorials. They were very very helpful and i learned allot from them, BUT, using every last skill I was taught by them still leaves me making websites that look like there from the mid 90's. Also, both TNB & CC did a horrible job of teaching about positioning. I've managed to get decent at it, but still not good. So my question is, where is a good site i can go to to learn about how to make impressive looking websites with HTML, CSS, & JS... If its good enough, I'd be willing to pay some money to get into the course. And if theres something I'm leaving out, suggest it please! Thanks!

EDIT (4/18/2014): Im bringing this thread back from the dead. I unfortunately had some real life nonsense to get caught up with so i couldn't check back here. Hopefully i can start this up again.

Give us a sample?
With aesthetics it comes down to what you want for your site and if it's easily achievable. usually colors(Mostly subtle gradients) + very subtle textures works miracles on simple websites. 

There too bad for me to want to show really. I really need some place that i can learn from a bit :)

Tuts+ is a nice site for general ideas and information. Some of it will be relevant some will not. It's hard to tell you what you need as I haven't seen where you are going wrong.

Honestly looking at other websites and seeing what works and then playing around with design is going be the best way to teach yourself

Looking into color theory will also help. There are sites like Kuler for palettes. Visual hierarchy and typography is also something you should look at.

TBH I do not think you can be taught how to make things look good.  Yes you can be taught colour theory, placement(above the fold) etc, but not aesthetics (everyone is different)   You can be taught HOW to change somethings position but not where to position something.  You can be taught how to specify a colour but not which colour to use.  The only advice I was given in my SQA (a Scottish qualification)in web design was do not make anything too busy or use too many colours/fonts. (and unless really keen to do so DO NOT use animations they are not so much eye-catching as really annoying).


Bad design :-http://www.lingscars.com/


Argh ! My eyes.


Of course this could be deliberately bad to get people to repost/talk about it etc.  What price that amount af publicity?



I would look into some CSS3 effects. Stuff like rounded edges can shave some years off of the design. Something else you might want to look into is parallax, which is a really cool effect, but you don't want to overuse it.

I've never taken a class in web design or read a book. Poking around other people's code is how I learned most all of what I know. Besides that, it's all just visualizing where you want to end up, and if you get stuck, just look it up online.

This is correct. It's something you just sort of stumble upon through trial and error and playing around. But knowing the basics helps.

Oh and white space is your friend

We got shown this website in one of my first design lectures. Its one of the worst sites ever http://www.dokimos.org/ajff/ 

That site needs to come with a warning

Actually you can be taught how to make things look good.  It's called art school...hopefully you've heard of it.  lol...sorry you set me up to say that.

I would strongly suggest taking a look at design principal and theory because i'd say most professional website designers really study in design principle.  For example, rule of thirds, above the folds, typography, adjacent placements, color theory, line theory, general art knowledge(vocabulary).  The design principles can be applied in everything, from film making, photography, painting/drawing, conceptual art, and web design.

Some tips i'd suggest mainly DO NOT USE basic colors. Always go with off tones and start grading things based on shade. For example, mock up a website on photoshop or illustrator where you can layout a grayscaled website without using black or white.  Come up with about 4 or 5 tones that you think work well together. Like possibly 10%, 40%, 60%, 90% black and then start with a simple layout, like the teksyndicate website.  Try placing background as the darkest and set up your tables according to importance by the amount of color.  Most important would be the most visible, so contrasting, triadic, complementing or w/e color scheme you want to go for, make sure you use good theory behind it and make sure the colors don't fight each other.

Check out this site for color scheming: https://kuler.adobe.com/create/color-wheel/

HTML Tutorials: http://www.w3schools.com/html/

Those 2 sites have helped me the most in general for websites.  Another thing is look for the top websites in the world like this http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/best-html5-websites or http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/best-flash-sites

By understanding what looks good together, you can start putting other ideas together, kind of like making music by combining ideas you can make something new.  Hopefully this helps.

Yah i get what your saying. 'looking good' really depends on the opinions of the person making the website, BUT, i need to understand the code in the first place to do that XD That's why im asking

WOT is a  Web of trust.

Well to a point.  You can be taught to make things look not disgusting; but "good", that's a matter of perception.

Have you seen some of the cra^w stuff to come out of art schools?  Similarly some really good artists have never darkened an art school's door.

I've always gone the mock-up route.  Design your interface in a graphics program, then take it to code.  No amount of PHP or CSS training is going to teach you ascetics, usability, visibility or any real design principles.  You can probably find some design theory tutorials or books out there I'm sure, they will likely help quite a bit.  Taking a graphic or web design class at your local college or an online university is an option as well.

However, you may be better suited to simply find and study other well designed websites (or even print design, as many of the principles are compatible).  Begin by emulating what you see, and then when you start to notice the patterns and get comfortable with the basics, you can start employing those principles while improvising your own designs.  Just my 2 cents.

ill work on something tonight. i got nothing to show right now.

aesthetics of a website doesn't require code, you ALWAYS mock up before you code because you want to know how you're going to code it to make it look a certain way. Every art teacher i've ever spoken to when i was  building my portfolio website told me that.  It's like conception, that is the first step to any production line in making video game.

You'd be surprised but many people design their website through photoshop and dreamweaver because you can port your design from photoshop to dreamweaver so that you can focus the look over coding.  For basic functions like tables and layouts photoshop can code that quite simply.

the one under that pisses me off

Oh my God, my eyes are burning!!!!


   Nothing really is needed to start web site design. Here http://www.cheesesoup.myby.co.uk/ [1] is a VERY old VERY basic site I coded in Notepad using HTML and a couple of CSS commands.  Get a book on HTML from the library to learn the commands make images etc in paint.  Web sites CAN be very cheap (free apart from the hosting). This webspace was given 'free' by my I.S.P. so total cost is Zero.


I am NOT any where near a web developer. I have built a total of two sites, the HTML in Notepad one and one about the Hawker Harrier(which no longer exists) using Frontpage (remember that?).  Basically I do not do any web design.

[1] Coded in Notepad basically to see if I could do it. It was made before I had any web classes and I haven't got an artistic bone in my body so there are some glaring errors, but as I said it was initially coded ten or so years ago.  since then I have done nothing to it apart from change the E-mail addy (every couple of years or so) oh and added the greenhouse pages about five years ago.